ONE light-weight champion Christian Lee may very well be described as many issues however cocky isn’t certainly one of them.
After turning professional when he was barely sufficiently old to drive a automobile, Lee has developed into one of many promotion’s premiere abilities after competing at featherweight to start out his profession after which finally turning into light-weight champion.
At 22, Lee has already completed quite a bit however as he prepares for his first headlining occasion with the upcoming ONE on TNT 2 card set for primetime broadcast in the USA, he’s able to introduce himself to a complete new viewers. In reality whereas Lee appears nearly allergic to trash speak, he’s assured sufficient to say with out reservation that many People are about to witness the most effective light-weight on the earth when he defends his title towards Timofey Nastyukhin on Wednesday.
“I don’t think about myself an egotistical man however I’m very assured in my talent set and my talents,” Lee stated when chatting with MMA Combating. “I do imagine that I’m the most effective light-weight fighter on the earth, not simply in ONE Championship. As of proper now, I’m signed with ONE Championship and the way in which the MMA leagues are structured you’ll be able to solely struggle the folks in your group however I’d love for that to occur sooner or later the place you possibly can struggle throughout promotions to really see who’s the most effective.
“As a result of I don’t imagine that the UFC has the most effective fighters. I don’t imagine Bellator has the most effective fighters. There’s superb fighters in all organizations and it simply depends upon the place they bought signed to and the place they find yourself making their profession at. I’m very assured in my talent set and if ONE Championship ever made a cross promotion struggle between champions, I’d extraordinarily assured towards any champion of any group.”
Previous to his final win over Iuri Lapicus, who only in the near past battled Eddie Alvarez on the ONE on TNT 1 card, Lee had hoped that he might sooner or later problem himself towards the fighter most universally acknowledged as the most effective light-weight within the sport in former UFC champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
After all, Nurmagomedov shocked the world this previous October by asserting his retirement from the game as he left the UFC light-weight title behind whereas calling it a profession with an ideal 29-0 resume.
Lee had nothing however admiration for Nurmagomedov and the identical may very well be stated for Bellator light-weight champion Patricio Pitbull or whoever comes out on high within the upcoming UFC light-weight title struggle between Michael Chandler and Charles Oliveira.
That stated, Lee has no downside believing that he would beat any of them if given the chance to face the champions from different promotions from around the globe.
“For me, I really feel that I’m the No. 1 light-weight on the earth,” Lee stated. “I’m assured in my talents. If all these high fighters weren’t signed to different organizations and we did a grand prix for all the highest lightweights on the earth, I really feel like I’d be sitting on high of that. I completely imagine I’d come out on high towards any light-weight.”
After initially competing at featherweight, Lee discovered himself preventing at light-weight nearly by chance after former champion and one-time coaching accomplice Shinya Aoki referred to as him out again in 2019.
It was an surprising title shot however Lee took full benefit by blitzing the Japanese legend with strikes within the second spherical to assert the ONE light-weight title. He then dismantled extremely touted Dagestani prospect Saygid “Dagi” Guseyn Arslanaliev earlier than taking out Lapicus in his final outing.
Now that he’s settled into life as a light-weight, Lee admits that his days competing at featherweight are most likely completed, particularly after taking time through the international pandemic so as to add extra dimension and muscle to his body.
“For me by way of the load class, actually I grew out of the featherweight division,” Lee stated. “My strolling weight doesn’t actually enable me to return to that featherweight restrict. I used to be going to suck it up as a result of I wished that redemption. I had an early loss to Martin Nguyen in my profession and I used to be actually upset about my break up choice loss as a result of I went into that struggle with a damaged hand, which in fact is my fault. I felt that I might put together for it nicely sufficient with out having any sparring. Nevertheless it nonetheless went to an in depth break up choice. I landed extra strikes. I felt like I did sufficient to earn that call so I used to be going to return right down to featherweight for that motive.
“However now taking place to struggle Thanh [Le] now that Martin is not the champ, I don’t really feel any need to kill my physique to return down for that struggle. Light-weight goes to be new dwelling and I’m wanting ahead to taking out all of the hungry contenders on this division.”
Maybe the scariest factor when fascinated about Lee’s standing in ONE Championship in addition to the light-weight division is that he’s nonetheless so younger in his profession. He’s been preventing professionally for six years however he’s barely cracked his athletic potential and Lee guarantees the most effective is but to return.
“I’m grateful for every little thing that I’ve completed however I really feel like I’m simply initially,” Lee stated. “I’m excited as a result of I don’t plan stopping right here. I plan on defending my belt many, many extra occasions and if the chance ever comes to leap as much as welterweight, I’ll do this as nicely. I’m simply excited for all of the alternatives the long run holds.”